How Secure is Your Mobile Device?

How Secure is Your Mobile Device?

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By Jennifer John

If you want to buy a smartphone but fear attacks from mysterious hackers intent on stealing your private data, buy an Android or Windows Phone 7 and avoid an Apple iPhone or Blackberry at all costs.

Those were the results of the annual Pwn2Own hacking competition this year.

It took hackers just two days to hack their way through the iPhone 4 and Blackberry Torch 9800 units, but were unable to get into the Nexus S powered by Android or the Dell Venue Pro, Windows Phone 7.

This is good news for people who chose Windows Phone 7 or Android phones. Not such good news for people who shelled out big bucks for the iPhone or a sleek new Blackberry. It is also hardly a surprise to anyone who understands hackers or computers in general. Blackberry and Apple have been targets for some time and hackers have had ample time to learn the tricks for getting inside its brains. The Android has also been on the market for quite some time, but for some reason the competitors lined up to hack its system withdrew. So it wasn’t a case of “can’t be hacked” but more like “didn’t want to hack it.”

The fact is, no piece of hardware currently connected to an online network is unhackable. Since the very early days of computers the network hackers have been breaking into systems, poking around, stealing data and generally being the bedevilment of programmers everywhere. Most of them do it for the same reason some folks climb mountains: because they are there. If you must have a smartphone device but want the best protection you can find compare features such as Data Execution Prevention (DEP), address space layout randomization (ASLR), sandboxing and code signing.

These different features make hacking the phone more difficult, but they do not make the device unhackable. If a phone is too difficult for hackers to get into, like locking your car door does to most thieves, they will move on to something much less secure. Of course, if they are absolutely intent on getting into your system there is nothing you can do to keep them out. Given enough time and enough desire to do it, they will eventually break in and get what they want.

If you absolutely have to have an unhackable phone, you better get an old rotary dial phone and hang it on your wall. Of course, you would need an awful long extension cord to stay connected. The best idea is to stop thinking about it.

Author Information

Jennifer John is part of the reputation management team in a premier Virtual Assistant company and has been an avid follower of various hacker techniques. She also supports Virtual Assistants with their mobile security features and helping clients secure their online data. To find out more, feel free to visit her website.

Photo: Mark Iafrate

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Categories: Product Reviews

Comments

  1. soundman
    soundman 31 March, 2011, 18:42

    this article brings a lot of false hope. recently Google pulled 21 applications from Android due to those apps capabilities to mine people’s phones, this was after tens of thousands had already downloaded one of the many apps (source: http://www.theage.com.au/digital-life/smartphone-apps/google-pulls-21-apps-in-android-malware-scare-20110304-1bgyc.html)…

    and as you mentioned there was no hack attempt on android…

    furthermore, GeoHoltz who said he would come pulled out in the last minute, and I believe he was also going to attack windows phone… so really, this article is very misleading in all accounts…

  2. Bob
    Bob 31 March, 2011, 22:53

    I thought hackers went after windows more than apple. Wonder why that’s changed with smartphones…

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